We're getting closer to conference play...let's see how each of the contenders are looking thus far: Ohio - 8-4, RPI: 163 The Bobcats started off 6-0, but have lost 4 of their last 6 games. They scored solid wins against Richmond and St. Bonaventure and take on Oklahoma tonight is a difficult non-conference test. D.J. Cooper is once again leading the way averaging 14 points and 8 assists per night. After winning the MAC Tournament and making a Sweet 16 run last season, the Bobcats are the team to beat in the MAC. (Side note: John Groce has Illinois at 12-1 and is doing a fabulous job in his 1st year) Akron - 7-4, RPI: 110 Coming into 2012-2013 with high expectations, it's already been an up-and-down season for Akron. After losing Quincy Diggs in the offseason, the regular season started with Nick Harney and Demetrius Treadwell missing the first three games due to a compliance paperwork error. The Zips lost two of those three games, both losses coming in overtime (Coastal Carolina, Oklahoma State). They have some solid victories already, including wins over Middle Tennessee State, Penn State, and Cleveland State, but you never know what team is going to show up on any given night. Zeke Marshall leads the way averaging 13/6, with Demetrius Treadwell coming on strong as of late. If anyone knocks off OU, Akron has the best chance. Kent State - 7-5, RPI: 179 A longtime staple in the MAC, Kent might be taking a step back this season. They have a solid win against Nebraska, but have looked mostly pedestrian early on. Chris Evans leads the way for KSU averaging 16/7 for the reshaped Golden Flashes. They are projected to go 16-13, which would end their streak of consecutive 20 win seasons. Western Michigan - 8-4, RPI: 71 It's tough to tell how good the Broncos are because the only really solid wins against Loyola and South Florida. Nate Hutcheson leads the way with Darius Paul, averaging 12/6 so far, impressing as a true freshman. Central Michigan - 7-5, RPI: 124 While Central Michigan isn't seen as a major contender, they should get better as the season goes on. Kyle Randall leads the Chips dropping in 16 per game. Toledo - 3-6, RPI: 238 Toledo has started the season slow, but still could become one of the surprise teams this year in the MAC. Rian Pearson leads the way with 19 PPG. I think it will be an interesting season. Akron is so up-and-down, OU has a new coach, Kent State has a rebuilt roster, and teams like Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Toledo will be hoping to upset one of the MAC giants. My predictions: MAC Regular Season Champion - Akron MAC Tournament Champion - Akron MAC Player of the Year: D.J. Cooper Note: RPI's pulled from here.